Mountain Writers Festival – Australia’s inaugural writers’ festival dedicated solely to the environment, themed ‘Place. Story. Nature.’ Produced by Macedon Ranges Literary Association Inc. (MARLA), a local volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation, the Mountain Writers Festival is set to be the Woodstock of the environmental movement in Australia, showcasing massive talent this November 4-6th held on Wurundjeri Country.
MARLA is committed to our environment, the arts and building community resilience, so it is no wonder that this festival is set to combine all of the above.
In an ode to environmental responsibility, the festival has committed to banning single-use plastics, printed flyers, and unnecessary printed material.
Organisers have also engaged with local businesses where possible for the sourcing of foods, beverages, and services to reduce transportation emissions, as well as situating the festival within walking distance to the train station to allow accessibility of public transport from the city.
Sonia Orchard, author, teacher, mentor, speaker, academic and festival director, dreamed of the festival since moving to the Macedon Ranges over four years ago. Through the festival, Orchard seeks to connect “writers and readers with their surroundings” whilst engaging in topics they collectively are deeply concerned about.
Uniting arts and activism, Mountain Writers Festival serves as a platform to ignite joy and hope for the future in seemingly hopeless times.
Curators of the Mountain Writers Festival seek to invoke not only inspiration and gratitude for the Earth via the arts, but also a sense of joy.
Without shying away from the “difficult and serious topics such as the state of the environment and the traumatic history of the custodians of this land”, Orchard says that they hope to “bring everyone back to the love that we all have for our environment [by] celebrating our connection to it.”
After years of dreaming and preparation, Orchard has cultivated an impressive ensemble of talent, from writers, authors, activists, and historians, to famous rockstars, scientists, comedians, actors, and poets.
The depth of knowledge, talent, and passion of each of the speakers is a testament to the festival’s intentions.
Robert McFarlane once wrote that “books, like landscapes, leave their marks in us”. And just like they similarly leave their marks, they also create space for action, activism, and curation of a need for change.
‘Artivism’ (art + activism) is a dynamic practice whereby art and creative potential ignites emotions and provokes thoughts necessary to bring about social change, a welcoming scene to the Australian landscape. The line-up of speakers and conversations planned for the festival makes perfect use of art’s unique potential – to dig deeper than entertainment, but rather rouse thoughts and emotions.
The festival program ranges from discussions of Country, place, home and belonging, of our connection to Earth and the correlation between that and our well-being, to delving into lives of activism and the darkness of colonialism in Australia’s history.
From analysing the past, present, and future of the climate crisis – to how to save the world in 90 minutes, why gardens matter, and a play depicting the events of the devastating bush-fires of Ash Wednesday.
The festival promises a weekend of not only entertainment, but also education, inspiration, and admiration and stands on grounds to empower.
On land where storytelling runs deep, the festival seeks to honour those traditions, gathering on and celebrating place and Country. “The festival really is like a meeting place for people with passion and ideas,” Orchard says.
In creating this ‘meeting place’, Orchard sees that it “has become clear is that there is not just enthusiasm, but a sense of urgency [for] people’s need to come together to talk about and celebrate the environment.”
“Hopefully, guests spend their weekend listening to and taking part in wonderful conversations about place, story and nature”, she continues, and “thinking about what these things mean to them”. She hopes that guests “walk away feeling gratitude – not just for the environment but also for community and arts – and also immensely inspired.”
Mountain Writers Festival invites you to enjoy a breath of fresh air, and connect with yourself, the Earth, and other like-minded people, whilst “celebrat[ing] the natural beauty of our surroundings and honour its traditional custodians”.
For a future rich in the arts, with a flourishing environment and deep connection, the Mountain Writers Festival shows us the conversations we need to be having, the events that need to be organised, and the combination of art and activism necessary.
Converse, reflect and be inspired by buying tickets here.
[Weekend tickets are sold out, but limited day and individual session tickets are still available].
Check out the incredible scope of conversation and entertainment here, along with the festival’s guide to the Macedon Ranges here.
Molly Salmon is a writer and creative, currently completing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Creative Writing and History. She is devoted to the power of the written word and journalism as a medium to embrace creativity whilst informing, educating, empowering and inspiring others on issues close to her heart, such as the environment, women’s empowerment, inequality and inequity. Molly is passionate about writing stories that make the reader feel something.